A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that Americans receiving food stamps are more likely to be overweight and obese than those who do not receive assistance.
The USDA analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the years between 2007 and 2010 and found that 29 percent of Americans are overweight and 31 percent are obese.
Overall, 40 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants were found to be obese. Only 32 percent of income-eligible nonparticipants were obese, while 30 percent of those who made too much money to qualify for assistance were obese.
The pattern held for children as well as for adults.
Fourteen percent of children enrolled in the SNAP program were overweight while 24 percent are obese. For income-eligible nonparticipants, 15 percent were overweight while 20 percent were obese. Among higher-income nonparticipants, 15 percent were overweight while 13 percent were obese.
Among adults, 28 percent of SNAP recipients were overweight and 44 percent are obese. Thirty-one percent of income-eligible nonparticipants were overweight and another 33 percent were obese. Among higher-income nonparticipants, 32 percent were overweight and 32 percent were obese.
The study found that while females in all categories had the same levels of caloric intake, males who received SNAP benefits consumed fewer calories than those in other groups. Males SNAP participants consumed 2,302 calories on average versus 2,424 calories for males in the other two groups.
Male children participating in SNAP consumed 1,960 calories on average versus 2,072 calories consumed, on average, by income-eligible nonparticipants.
Older adult males in the SNAP program consume 1,840 calories on average while higher-income males consumed 2,117 calories on average.
The study found that SNAP recipients were less likely than either group to consume raw vegetables and fruit and more likely to consume whole milk versus versus lower-fat milk.
SNAP recipients were also more likely to consume soda and more often chose regular soda compared to diet soda.
However, the study did find that SNAP participants were less likely to choose sweets, desserts, salty snacks, and to add fats and oils to their food.